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Thread: The 2011 Garden Thread

  1. #51
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I'm soooo excited the asparagus is starting to emerge!!! Here's one of 10 crowns I planted. This particular one has 4 spears emerging. This is the third year since planting so we can harvest and eat it for the first time this year! I seem to recall this variety of asparagus is called 'Jersey Knight'. Looks rather purplish, I don't think I knew Jersey Knight was a type of purple asparagus when I picked it out a few years ago, but it's all good. I hope it tastes good. I don't know, maybe it just has a slightly purplish appearance at this stage of development.



    Here's one of the 8' x 4' raised beds. It has an experimental (experimental for me at any rate) paper mulch as you can see over 75% of the suface. The exposed area has peas planted way in back (where the poles are) and the rest has spinach. Given the frequency of really violent weather we're having this spring I don't expect much of the spinach to emerge. Many seeds were probably blown/washed away shortly after sowing, and I know for a fact critters got to some of the seeds. Not expecting much in the way of a spring garden this year.



    (part of) front yard flower garden. Here are some of Mrs. Maister's daffodils and hyacinths (man, those things are pungent). The tulips have not yet sent up stalks but it should only be another week or two before they do.

    Amazing when you consider we had 3 inches of snow on the ground on Monday.

  2. #52
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    You are much further along than we are - I am guessing by a week or more. I will have to try covering the bed and mulching the asparagus as I see you have. Weeding it is a constant challenge. In some of my other beds I lay down a roll of brown (kraft) paper to keep the weeds down. by the next spring it is mostly disintegrated and I just turn it over with the soil.
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  3. #53
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Very impressive, Maister! I will be curious to know how the asparagus matures and tastes.

    And hyacinths - yeah, they are very strong. I don't know if anyone here has ever use Flonase nasal spray for allergies, but it smells EXACTLY like hyacinth. Very strange...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  4. #54
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    You are much further along than we are - I am guessing by a week or more. I will have to try covering the bed and mulching the asparagus as I see you have. Weeding it is a constant challenge. In some of my other beds I lay down a roll of brown (kraft) paper to keep the weeds down. by the next spring it is mostly disintegrated and I just turn it over with the soil.
    I did a poor job weeding the perrennial areas last season. The strawberries and asparagus were almost over-run with weeds several times last year. So for me a mulch is critical. I used a semi-permeable black plastic (not fabric) mulch, which has the effect of heating up the soil more quickly, yet allows moisture through. I stopped by some other locations in town that grow asparagus and did not see any tips emerging yet, so I am convinced the reason it's coming up this early is entirely due to the mulch. This is the first time I've used a paper mulch. I was concerned it would disinitegrate too quickly and would be mostly decomposed by mid-July. I gather this is not the the case?

  5. #55
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The kraft paper holds up pretty well. By the end of the season I would guess I still have about 2/3 of it, though I do need to place something on top of it to hold it down during the season. I use sticks. In the past I have tried using newspaper but it is more likely to blow away and also does not hold up as well.
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  6. #56
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    The kraft paper holds up pretty well. By the end of the season I would guess I still have about 2/3 of it, though I do need to place something on top of it to hold it down during the season. I use sticks. In the past I have tried using newspaper but it is more likely to blow away and also does not hold up as well.
    As you can see from the picture I pressed the square foot gardening twine markers into 'paperweight' duty. We've had very high winds recently and the grid has held the paper down admirably.

  7. #57
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    The results of ZG's hard work.

    Garden greens. We'll be eating fresh salads very soon and continue through the summer and fall.


    Tomatoes on the vine.

  8. #58
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    My kale and peas have begun to sprout up through the ground in the garden and a bunch of impatients and peppers that I have growing in pots indoors have started to pop up through the dirt as well. I think I'm going to go ahead and plant a few more packages of the impatients - I was skeptical at first as to how well they would do from seed but they seem promising.


    I also planted probably 100+ tulip bulbs last fall and it looks like I'll end up with about 3 or 4 flowers. The rest of them have become breakfast for the neighborhood deer. To add insult to injury, the deer like to use their hoofs and rip the bulbs from the ground too! I think this fall I'm going to plant a few daffodil bulbs in with the tulip plots and hopefully that will deter the cervidaen pests.
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  9. #59
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    I went out yesterday to begin clearing out the garden beds for the perennials that have already started to emerge from the ground. No sooner did I get outside, it began to rain. I cut down some of last year's growth before giving up in damp frustration.

    Back in the house, I found 3 deer ticks crawling on my t-shirt. It stopped raining a little while later, but I was so freaked that I don't know when I'll be able to work in the garden again without a full-length bug suit or something...

    Lyme disease is prevalent around here - I know several people who have had it.

  10. #60
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Does anyone partake in container gardening? I live on the second floor of an apartment with a porch/balcony that faces west. I have been looking at EarthBoxes or one of the similar variants of them. I am thinking of planting 2 boxes, one with determinant tomatoes and basil, and another with peppers or something.

    Any hints or tricks for container gardening?

  11. #61
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    Activity in the garden this weekend included a fairly thorough weeding. Hopefully this will help the strawberries get a leg up. They're already starting to grow and getting rid of (and keeping down) the weeds will be critical for this year's harvest.

    We steamed eight spears of delicious fresh asparagus this weekend. I had never eaten garden fresh asparagus before, and I can tell you it was very tender and flavorful. The texture is the most remarkable thing - asparagus is kinda like sweet corn the way it rapidly loses its sweetness only hours after harvest. Asparagus gets progressively tougher and more fibrous after it has been harvested. The asparagus you buy at the grocery store is typically at least a week old - particularly if purchased out of season and originating from South America. Even the stuff you get at the farmer's market (which I usually find to be noticeably fresher for the record) is typically a day or two old. Asparagus that is 10 minutes old, however, is quite tender with only a brief steaming. Served with just a little butter and salt....it's very very delicious.

    I'm now convinced that everyone who grows veggies should consider growing asparagus! Once you've planted it, there's almost nothing you need to do for the next 20 years other than keep it weeded. Compared to tomatoes (if there's only one crop most families grow, it'll be tomatoes) it's a cinch. My only dilemma is that I have found 10 crowns of it has not been quite enough to provide two adults and a hungy 5 y.o. three full veggie servings thus far. Maybe the rate at which it produces spears will increase as the season progresses, but I think the solution will ultimately be planting 10 more crowns of it!

    In other garden news, about 95% of the peas planted have already emerged and perhaps half of the spinach planted managed to emerge/survive this crazy spring weather (I only expected maybe a third of it to make it). Eight radishes have emerged and I'll plant another eight today or tomorrow and will continue to plant eight more at one week intervals to ensure a staggered harvest. I intend to sew a half dozen lettuce tonight, and time permitting maybe get four cucumbers started inside as well. The green peppers for whatever reason have not fared very well inside and are only 2-3" tall at this point. Traditionally green peppers are transplanted in these parts around Memorial Day, but I fear they may still be a bit dwarfish by that time (happened to me last year, and I only got a handful of peppers near the very end of the season), so I may pick a half dozen up from the greenhouse. I also decided to roll the dice - looked at the 10 day forcast and transplanted ALL the tomatoes yesterday, started seven weeks ago. This inlcudes the Early Girls and Better Boys.

    Mrs. Maister's flowers are coming along nicely, I'll try to get some photos up this week. Right now the daffodils and hyacinths are still in bloom, and the tulips recently joined them. We also recieved two tiger lillies as a gift at Easter and intend to put them in the rear corner flower garden. I forgot to get the zinnias started last week, but it's still not too late to get them going and I guess I'll add that to tonights gardening itinerary.
    Last edited by Maister; 02 May 2011 at 11:42 AM.

  12. #62
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Had the first blackberries of the season this weekend. It's going to be a limited season, a lot of the canes died off last year but next year's shoots are looking promising.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  13. #63
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    Quote Originally posted by rcgplanner View post
    Does anyone partake in container gardening? I live on the second floor of an apartment with a porch/balcony that faces west. I have been looking at EarthBoxes or one of the similar variants of them. I am thinking of planting 2 boxes, one with determinant tomatoes and basil, and another with peppers or something.

    Any hints or tricks for container gardening?
    There are lots of books and articles on container gardening out there, but let me make one suggestion - check how many hours of direct sunlight this balcony/porch area receives, and if it looks like you get less than five hours, you should plant a shade-tolerant plant such as (bush variety, not pole) beans or peas, radishes, or lettuce (container-grown salads are awesomeness). Most culinary herbs also do well with only 3-4 hours of direct sunlight including: chives, dill, parsley, basil, oregano, etc. and make for welcome cooking additions.

  14. #64
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Hey, we had some actual dry weather (ie, not exactly dry, just a little drizzle, but this spring, that qualifies as dry!) for about 48 hours and then the sun came out on Saturday. I was able to mow my lawn -- with the rider no less!!!

    I also cut back the roses and the dead wood on the landscape roses on the slope out front, hoping to convince them to grow uphill not down and over the sidewalk.

    I noticed that a few of the tulips out front survived deer predation, mostly those right next to the street. Obviously, the deer on Colfax Street use the sidewalk on their nightly raids rather than the street! Less chance of having their meals disturbed I suppose.

    I am anxiously awaiting my weeping cherry to bloom. It's starting to get pinkish as the buds enlarge. I'm not sure how the little crabapple out front will do. It seems to have been a tough winter for the crabs -- a lot of them don't seem to be putting out flowers, just leaves.

    OTOH, it's going to be a banner year for lilacs. My pride and joy, the big dark purple sweetie along the driveway that I got as a sucker from my former neighbors in Albany, is loaded -- every single branch has big buds it seems. It will be even more gorgeous than usual. I have a "daughter" that I started as a sucker a few years ago that is going to bloom, too. I don't know what variety these are, but they are the most beautiful and reliable lilacs I have. My nursery-bought pink lilac in the front is also well filled with buds.

    My lilac "babies" are all hale and hearty, with the little white one looking like it might have a bloom. I am worried about the two old purple lilacs that I inherited with the house. They are not doing very well, especially the unusual purple one with a white cross on each floweret. I have tried everything I can think of, but they are just NOT prospering as plants, so I am hoping I can get at least one sucker from each to try elsewhere. Of course, lilacs that aren't doing well don't put out suckers.

    I noticed that my pussy willows bloomed. It was so cold and nasty, not to mention soggy, that I never got out to see them before the catkins formed. Maybe next year I'll have my own pussy willows for Easter.

  15. #65
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Spent some good time in the garden this past weekend. Built three 4X4 raised beds and planted about 35 plants - mostly tomatoes, peppers, and basil. However, last night we had a little frost and, even though I covered the plants, I think I lost the tops of most of my tomatoes. They were all mushy and limp this morning. So sad! I think the plants will survive - the lower leaves looked ok - but it still hurts. The peppers look great, though - I think they liked the cold.

    I don't remember the tomato varieties off the top of my head (one is a roma variety, I know that), but for peppers I've got poblanos, jalapeños and green chiles. We also have some lettuce up and a little spinach making a valiant effort.
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  16. #66
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    We've been picking and eating the mixed salad greens that ZG is growing. Terrific mix of flavors.

  17. #67
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    There are lots of books and articles on container gardening out there, but let me make one suggestion - check how many hours of direct sunlight this balcony/porch area receives, and if it looks like you get less than five hours, you should plant a shade-tolerant plant such as (bush variety, not pole) beans or peas, radishes, or lettuce (container-grown salads are awesomeness). Most culinary herbs also do well with only 3-4 hours of direct sunlight including: chives, dill, parsley, basil, oregano, etc. and make for welcome cooking additions.
    Awesome tips. I tried a hanging tomato hanging planter last summer and it didn't go so well. My cherry tomatoes did okay, but I wasn't overly impressed. If we ever get a sunny day during the weekend again I will try to see how much sun my porch gets.

  18. #68
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I posted too soon that I still had tulips in the front yard. Ms Bambi and her girlfriends apparently raided my front garden for midnight snacks, and only departed when every single tulip was history!

    Just for that I'll take my apple paring to the deer that stay in the park!

  19. #69
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I, too, spoke too soon. We had frost the last two nights and despite my best efforts to protect my plants, I think I lost about half the tomatoes. Some still have a leaf or two on them and may survive, but its not a pretty site. The peppers and basil and lettuce and spinach couldn't be happier, though.

    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  20. #70
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    I, too, spoke too soon. We had frost the last two nights and despite my best efforts to protect my plants, I think I lost about half the tomatoes. Some still have a leaf or two on them and may survive, but its not a pretty site. The peppers and basil and lettuce and spinach couldn't be happier, though.

    They're predicting snow in the "higher elevations" here tomorrow morning! Now, 1500 feet may not be much in New Mexico, but here in the East, that's pretty high outside of the Appalachians themselves. My GPS pegs my backyard at 1553, so I'm glad I haven't even thought about planting anything yet!

  21. #71
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    They're predicting snow in the "higher elevations" here tomorrow morning! Now, 1500 feet may not be much in New Mexico, but here in the East, that's pretty high outside of the Appalachians themselves. My GPS pegs my backyard at 1553, so I'm glad I haven't even thought about planting anything yet!
    You're right - I laugh at your 1500 feet! But snow kills tender plants, no matter the elevation. My fair city is at 5500 and our place in the mountains is at 8000. Now that's a workout! The best is visiting folks at sea level - I've got energy to spare!
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  22. #72
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The weekend was perfect gardening weather in Wisconsin. I have been converting my veggie garden to raised beds. Last year I built four 5x8 beds. I built another three on Saturday, and figure on doing three more this year. I planted peas a while back and I see they are beginning to sprout. I have now added beans, spinach, lettuce, onions, and cabbage. I also planted a peach tree and a pear tree. The plum I planted last year is doing fine, but the cherry had a lot of bark chewed off of it. I am hoping it will pull through.

    Maister - I agree that ten crowns are not enough. I started with eight and added twelve last year. I am seriously thinking of adding another 20 this year. The spears freeze well.
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  23. #73
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I also planted a peach tree and a pear tree. The plum I planted last year is doing fine, but the cherry had a lot of bark chewed off of it. I am hoping it will pull through.
    You should do a free-standing espalier with those fruit trees, if you haven't already. Not only does it look motherin' cool, but I hear controlling the branch growth can also increase harvests.


    EDIT: Tragic garden news. Last night's freeze managed to kill off a third of my tomatoes. A gust of wind must have blown the cover partly off.

    Oh well, at least it is quite early in the season and I can easily and cheaply replace the lost tomatoes with transplants from the greenhouse.

    On the subject of tomatoes, I am doing something slightly different this year by growing only indeterminate types of tomatoes (Early Girl, Better Boy, and Beefsteak). By growing only indeterminants I can separate the plants by only 12" and can stake and grow them all vertically. This will save a lot of garden space and should increase the productivity per square-foot considerably.
    Last edited by Maister; 05 May 2011 at 9:48 AM.

  24. #74
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    Replanted most of the tomatoes I lost with greenhouse transplants (paid $14.50 for 18 lousy stinking plants - now I remember why I wanted to start them from seed myself!). At least they are very healthy plants, and I should recoup my $ after only a couple weeks of harvesting tomatoes. The parsley bit the dust. I think it died from shock, as I had only hardened it off for a couple days before subjecting it to the big bad World and we had some low temps and high winds there almost immediately after transplanting. I'll probably pick up a replacement at the farmers market soon. I guess the transplanting in general hasn't gone so well thus far. Let's hope we do better when I put the peppers in.

    Asparagus is still going strong. We did a side by side taste comparasin on Mother's Day when we had the in-laws over for dinner - made a batch of store bought and prepared it the same as the home-grown. The in-laws, not altogether surprisingly, voted for home-grown.

    The strawberries have started flowering in a big way. I guess that means we can look forward to some yummy strawberries in a couple more weeks. Mmmmmm strawberry jam...strawberry pancakes...strawberry shortcake...strawberries on cereal...just plain fresh strawberries.

    The peas are about 3-4" tall and should start 'climbing' soon, the first batch of radishes should be ready to harvest the by end of next week. So far no germination occuring with the lettuce seeds, but it's a bit soon. There's a lot of rain in store this week, so I expect that'll change soon.

    In flower news Mrs. Maister planted a couple flats of impatients and yellow-headed marigolds. The daffodils have petered out but the tulips are in full swing. We planted probably a 100 tulip bulbs last fall and I think it was worth the investment.

  25. #75
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Two weeks ago we planted seeds for green beans, some other kind of beans, and eggplants. The green beans have sprouted in their little starter kit. The eggplant is still playing hard-to-get.

    Once we have seedlings I need to find a place and location to plant my little friends. Looks like it might end up being container gardens in the front lawn since that is one of the few places we have sun.

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